Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine that combines its original shot with protection against the omicron variant appears to work, the company announced Wednesday. COVID-19 vaccine makers are studying updated boosters that might be offered in the fall to better protect people against future coronavirus surges. Moderna's preliminary study results show people given the combination shot experienced an eight-fold increase in virus-fighting antibodies capable of targeting the omicron mutant, the company announced. They’re still providing strong protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death even after the appearance of the super-contagious omicron variant — especially if people have had a booster dose. Key questions: How to make that change without losing the continued strong protection against COVID-19’s worst outcomes?
Related:SKY - COVID-19: JCVI recommends autumn booster jabs for some groups
Analysis: Booster targeting makes sense, but leaves the economy exposedIt's a marked contrast to the booster rollout of last autumn, when it was offered in stages to all adults. Well, for a start, it makes clinical sense to target those most at risk. Even now, fewer than half of all people under 40 have had the booster rolled out last autumn. So while giving the booster to the vulnerable makes sense to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed, it still leaves the economy exposed. And that could be repeated if an even more infectious version – or a whole new variant - takes hold in the UK.THE VERGE - New partnership links positive COVID-19 cases to antivirals — for a price
The at-home molecular COVID-19 testing company Detect is partnering with healthcare provider Carbon Health to give customers who test positive easy access to antiviral treatments, the companies announced today. The “Test to Treat at Home” program runs directly through the Detect app, which connects people who test positive for COVID-19 with Carbon Health. But, unlike the federal program, which is free, the Detect and Carbon Health partnership comes at a cost — which could keep it from being widely accessible. Carbon Health visits are covered by many insurance companies, but, for the uninsured, virtual visits can run as high as $69 and in-person visits as high as $195. COVID-19 cases are climbing in the US as contagious and immune-evading versions of the omicron variant move through the country.WASHINGTON EXAMINER - FDA panel votes to authorize Novavax COVID-19 vaccine
The Food and Drug Administration's panel of vaccine experts has voted overwhelmingly to authorize Novavax's two-dose COVID-19 vaccine, paving the way for a new option that officials hope will attract unvaccinated people. Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, the Novavax vaccine relies on lab-engineered spike proteins to mimic the one on the coronavirus pathogen that binds to cells and infects people. Members of the outside panel were concerned about the lack of data to show the Novavax vaccine’s efficacy against the omicron variant. Novavax, like Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson, developed its vaccine to protect best against the original strain of the coronavirus. The Trump administration poured $1.6 billion into the development of the Novavax vaccine, which has hit myriad stumbling blocks since then.THE WASHINGTON POST - Moderna seeking FDA authorization of omicron-specific booster shot
But the omicron variant has mutated so quickly that several new subvariants have emerged that are even better at evading the immune system’s defenses. Even if the updated booster provides less protection against later omicron subvariants than against BA.1, it will probably still be more effective against them than the company’s existing booster, Moderna President Stephen Hoge said. AdvertisementSoon after the omicron variant was identified in South Africa late last year, Moderna said it was developing shots specifically designed to fight the variant. Pfizer and BioNTech announced the same plan, although they have not yet released data on their updated vaccine. Globally, new coronavirus cases are still declining after the omicron variant triggered tens of millions of new cases worldwide, driving up infections during the winter.